In this month, honoring St. Valentine and all things love, take a moment to think about how you show appreciation to the people in your world. Honestly, how would you rate yourself on a scale of one to 10 for really tipping your hat to others or singing their praises when they’ve had a WOW! moment?
Sounds easy, but it’s surprising how leaders can get lax with their thanks. I once heard about a boss who said he didn’t compliment people often because they might get lazy and, furthermore, not really think the compliments had meaning. When words of gratitude or praise are authentic and stated honestly, they always have meaning. Sensible people know the difference between a true pat on the back and when someone is just blowing smoke. Gratitude is good business. A tradition I do is thanking our entire database with a special message and helpful content each February during our business anniversary. This also gives people a reason to reach back to you.
My mother is the gold standard when it comes to gifting “just because” she was thinking of you. Perhaps you won’t go that far. But when a gift is intentional and selected especially for your assistant, member of your senior leadership or even a mentee, its impact goes far beyond the specific item. One of my former TV colleagues and close friends happens to be in love with the color orange. Whenever I see something unique in this color, I buy it for her. I may save it for her birthday or give it to her “just because.” There are some people who definitely deserve regular gifts. My brother gives his executive assistant a special spa gift every holiday season as a small way of giving her the license to make time for herself.
Use your tradition of gratitude and gifting to challenge your colleagues, direct reports, even board members. Nothing threatening, but showcase your belief in them by suggesting they take on something new. Perhaps it’s a promotion for a direct report. For a board member with whom you enjoy a solid rapport, task them with sharing their insight with you before a full board meeting so you can address specific items more thoroughly. For your colleagues, or what I term as the “across” people in your world, challenge yourself and one another to build greater collegiality. Appreciation comes in many shapes and sizes. Customize your methods and everyone wins.